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On the Move: A Life

(Oliver Sacks' memoirs #2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  17,314 ratings  ·  1,605 reviews
An impassioned, tender, and joyous memoir by the author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. 

When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: "Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far." It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcy
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Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Knopf (first published April 2015)
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Pinker Absolutely. Sacks often references his other writings in this book, but it can easily be read and enjoyed without reading the others. Of course, the e…moreAbsolutely. Sacks often references his other writings in this book, but it can easily be read and enjoyed without reading the others. Of course, the experience would be richer if you'd also read some of them before.(less)
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Petra-X
Oliver Sacks died today, 30th August 2015..

Back in the 50s/60s in California he was Dr. Sacks, a neurologist all week, but a gay, leatherclad biker called Wolf at weekends. That is when he wasn't on Muscle Beach going in for weightlifting competitions!

Oliver Sacks great accomplishment to me was to show us the people of the cases he describes as quite separate from their disorders. Not schizophrenics, but people with schizophrenia, not autistics or even autistic people, but people with autism a
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Petra-X
The print book, this one On the Move got 5* and a more extensive review. This review is for the BBC book and only gets 2*. Update But I have rerated it 5 star as for some reason, only this review shows. It is the worst abridgement of a book I have ever read. However I did enjoy reading it so much I bought the full book. The abridgement shows Sacks as this young man who liked motorbikes and drugs and grew up to become a genial doctor and best-selling author. A man who suppressed his homosexuality ...more
Glenn Sumi
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Neurologist. Doctor. Author. Pianist. Motorcycle enthusiast. Amateur weightlifter.

Oliver Sacks packed a lot of life into his 82 years (he died in August). And this incredible volume, the second part of his memoirs (the first is 2001’s Uncle Tungsten), chronicles his busy, fascinating adult life: Oxford, navigating his way through research and clinical studies (a trip to an Israeli kibbutz helped him focus on his career), his move to the U.S., his travels (“On The Move” indeed), discovering his p
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HP Saucerer
”I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition.” — Oliver Sacks

On the Move is the second of two memoirs written by British neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks; the first book, Uncle Tungsten, is an account of Sacks’ childhood growing up in England before the Second World War, with this book a recollection of Sacks’ adulthood.

Throughout the book, Sacks writes with unflinching honesty, with openness and sincerity, recall
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WILLIAM2
An essential endnote for the indefatigable Sacks reader. Recommended with brio. However, those just starting on the Sacks oeuvre are probably best off with The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, The Island of the Colorblind or An Anthropologist on Mars. Read and be reborn. ...more
Jane
May 14, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love Oliver Sacks, so I was incredibly disappointed to realize more than halfway through that I couldn't stand this book. It made me sad as well, for these are the last words of a dying man whose accomplishments and writings have made this world a more enlightened and decent place. This memoir is rambling and tedious. It has some good moments, such as when he describes coming to terms with his brother's mental illness and his own homosexuality. But then he cuts off the discussion and moves on ...more
Nicole~
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory. (On The Move: A Life - Oliver Sacks)

Oliver Sacks was the youngest of four boys born in England to a family in which a medical career seemed to be a hereditary trait: his father, mother, older brother, uncle and three first cousins were all doctors. At age 6, he and his brother we
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B Schrodinger
Inspired by 'Gratitude' and the feeling that I had ignored Oliver for far too long, I delved into 'On the Move' with enthusiasm and the feeling like I had remembered an old friend.

'Uncle Tungsten' takes care of his early life (it's been years since I have read that one too), and 'On the Move' picks up with an adult, recently graduated Dr. Sacks. Most of the book concentrates on his early career, through 'Awakenings' and into his further books, but it compresses his later life. It is a biography
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Wanda
This was a GoodReads first reads giveaway, which I won in April. The publisher provided an uncopy-edited proof.

I will admit that I have heard of Oliver Sacks, but have never read any of his other books and I entered this giveaway on a whim. (I did, however, see the Robin Williams film Awakenings based on Sacks’ work with postencephalitic patients.) So I have no points of comparison, to be able to judge Sacks’ writing in this book vs. his other works.

I was surprised at how little self-analysis w
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Chris
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Note: I wrote this review in May, 2015, then let it sit until today when I heard that Oliver Sacks just passed away. I have not re-edited the text to reflect that sad fact.

This is a book that I could not put down until I finished it, save for six hours of sleep overnight.

For Dr. Oliver Sack's most personal and poignant work, which I believe is his best, I will provide a different perspective to what others on Goodreads and most respected newspaper reviewers have already said. The differences are
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Jafar
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After writing many books, with great compassion and understanding, about his patients, Oliver Sacks reflects on his own life with humility and appreciation. What a wonderful human being, and what a fruitful life! He won't be with us for too long. Here is his recent article in The New York Times on learning that he has terminal cancer.

I would never have guessed that this gentle soul was a biker and a body builder.
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Hank Stuever
Maybe 2.5 stars.

I had mixed emotions about this book, especially the last half of it, which devolved from an interesting narrative of young manhood into a lot of tedious name-checking and humblebragging. It's worth mentioning up front that, while I've been a faithful reader of Oliver Sacks's fascinating articles over the years (mostly in the New Yorker), I've not read any of his other books. I don't think I've even seen the Robin Williams movie version of "Awakenings" all the way through. Yet I
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Cathy
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am heartbroken on hearing that Oliver Sacks died. I have read and enjoyed his books for more than thirty years. I even had a pleasant conversation with him once at a book awards ceremony, completely unaware of his identity. This book is the most personal yet and immensely satisfying. I am struck again by prejudice, irrational laws, and homophobia that has ruined so many lives. He had a ferocious intellect and imagination, and he could see connections where others could not. I am glad that he w ...more
Rambling Reader
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a great read about a brilliant man and his deep and varied interests.
Will Ansbacher
What a surprising, intriguing, brilliant, compassionate and thoughtful man! I thought I knew Oliver Sacks fairly well through his fascinating books drawn from his neurological practice, through Awakenings and his earlier autobiography Uncle Tungsten. How wrong I was.

This was a physician whose compassion and humanity separated him from the usual run of doctors, and he certainly had run-ins and violent disagreements on principle with many of them, in particular his superiors. He writes with disarm
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Matthew Quann
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Memoir-fans, neuroscience
Recommended to Matthew by: Josh Bragg
[3.5 Stars]

I read Oliver Sacks' memoir as I was studying neurology.

It may seem at first an insignificant fact, but the combination of unraveling the clinical complexities of the human nervous system with Sacks' account of his life as a neurologist helped to personally enrich both endeavours. This isn't to say that a sophisticated or even rudimentary understanding of neurology is required to enjoy this book; on the contrary, going in blind is the experience I believe Sacks had in mind for his a
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Jessie
I was very fortunate to have received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from GoodReads First Reads contest, not least because I am a massive fan of Dr. Sacks.

Among his many gifts and abilities two are displayed beautifully in this memoir: Sacks' intellectual prowess and the ability to translate his amazing experiences into beautiful prose.

Having read much of Dr. Sacks' work I had always known that he continues to lead an incredible life. I did not know how incredible until I was able to read
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Laurie  Anderson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Don
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My initial reaction was that this book needed better editing, that it tended to jump from subject to subject with no clear direction. But I've decided that I'm simply claiming that Sacks's life itself needed better "editing."

And I'm not sure that would have been a good thing.

The first half of the book is Sacks's almost embarrassingly candid discussion of the ups and downs of his early life. He appears to have compensated for extreme shyness by exposing himself to every physical challenge and dan
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Kasia
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you for your brilliance Oliver Sacks. I want to know what you knew and travel where you traveled.
Dov Zeller
Yesterday a friend sent me a Radiolab podcast "Alpha Gal" about a person who, well into adulthood, suddenly develops an intense allergy to red meat.

http://www.radiolab.org/story/alpha-gal/

In fact, she's not alone in this, but doctors, rather than being curious, tell her, and a significant number of other people with similar complaints, that they're "making it up in their heads."

Not only is her allergy real, but it's profoundly dangerous--yet another under-appreciated tick-born medical condition
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Barbara
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A passionate swimmer who suffers from face-blindness, Oliver Sacks loves bicycles and motorcycles and is a cousin of the cartoonist Al Capp and of Abba Eban, onetime deputy prime minister of Israel. Fascinated by jellyfish and chemistry, he spent the lonely years of his life eating cereal or sardines, standing up for both menu items. Often scorned by colleagues, and beloved by patients, he has written over a thousand personal journals. The son of two revered physicians and the brother of two, he ...more
Jeff
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
I've been a fan of Dr Sacks since I first read 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat...' in an undergrad Neuroscience class almost 20 years ago. In the years since I've read all his major works, eagerly anticipating each new publication, though none so much as this. It did not disappoint. His own life has been as fascinating, complicated and beautiful as the human mind he so adeptly studies and describes. Oliver Sacks has long been an intellectual inspiration for me, now he's my role model.
Heidi The Reader
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!

I knew nothing about Dr. Sacks before I read this book other than the fact that he was a prolific writer. Now I know much, much more.

I loved that Dr. Sacks didn't hesitate to jump into the nitty gritty details of his life. One line that really stuck out to me: "It was just as well that I had no foreknowledge of the future for after that sweet birthday fling I was to have no sex for the next thirty-five years
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Gearóid
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating book to read.
Oliver Sacks was obviously a very intelligent man and an expert in his field.
His book was very easy to read even though there are a lot of neurological terms
and complex descriptions of different conditions and how he analysed things.
But his writing is so good that it wasn't difficult to read at all.
It was so interesting to learn about this brilliant man who had a real human touch
as well a a great intellectual capacity.
His love of motorbikes and weightlifting sho
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Steve Kemple
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful, often surprising, frequently moving, and continually inspiring overview of Sacks' life and work.
Jonathan
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lives
I had not read anything by Oliver Sacks before. It took only a moment to realise that he was a great writer. I always thought of his profession as being what he is best known for through his writings, rather than the writing itself. I didn't know that he was English, or that he was gay. Both things endeared him even more to me, and along with his quite amazing life, I found myself reading a fascinating book.

Moving effortlessly between his family life and early education, his love of motorbikes a
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Nigel
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I've read most of Oliver Sacks books I think and mostly found them very enjoyable. I guess in reading them something of the character of the author comes over but I was happy to have more and bought this one a while back. The writing makes it easy to read and anyone with a knowledge of Sacks work should fine this worthwhile and interesting. There are twists and turns in his life and his clinical work can be fascinating. As far as I know there are few practitioners who approach problems of the br ...more
Laura
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
1/5: In the first episode of his vivid and honest memoir Oliver Sacks recounts his passion for motorbikes and his bond with his schizophrenic brother.

2/5: In his candid memoir, the physician and best-selling author, Oliver Sacks recalls the start of his work as a clinician. First of all he turns to his days as a power lifter and reflects on a personal struggle.

3/5: In his vivid and honest memoir, the neurologist and writer, Oliver Sacks reflects on love and lo
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Robin
I'm so lucky to have won an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Goodreads' First Reads contest. I'm eager to learn more about Oliver Sacks, as it sounds like he has fascinating stories to tell. Thank you to Random House of Canada and Goodreads.

* * * * *

Having never read any of Oliver Sacks' books before, this was my first introduction to him. I only knew him as the doctor that Robin Williams played in the movie "Awakenings".

The book began on a quite personal note; I loved that. I loved learni
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Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE, was a British neurologist residing in the United States, who has written popular books about his patients, the most famous of which is Awakenings, which was adapted into a film of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

Sacks was the youngest of four children born to a prosperous North London Jewish couple: Sam, a physician, and Elsie, a surgeon. When he wa
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Other books in the series

Oliver Sacks' memoirs (2 books)
  • Uncle Tungsten

News & Interviews

Are you spending this season bundling up against the chill or enjoying summery southern hemisphere vibes (in which case we are...
77 likes · 28 comments
“When I was twelve, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report, “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far,” and this was often the case.” 21 likes
“I have to remember, too, that sex is one of those areas—like religion and politics—where otherwise decent and rational people may have intense, irrational feelings.” 21 likes
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